President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the killing of drug addicts “to save the next generation from perdition.” But human rights groups say the government fails to address the underlying factors behind the country’s widespread drug problem.Street children regularly breathe in addictive inhalants like rugby to stave off hunger.
Under the law, addiction or substance use disorder (SUD) is defined as a “primary chronic relapsing disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.” While SUD is a complex problem caused by multiple factors, PAP asserted that people can manage their addiction with appropriate treatment and support.
The group then urged the government to take on a more human and scientific approach in dealing with the drug addiction issue, through amendments in the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The group also claimed that the programs criminalizing drug use only vilify drug users, violate human rights, and disregard legal and due process.
“The approach of criminalizing drug use violates the human rights of drug users and runs counter to the prevailing scientific view of addiction that is articulated in the new Mental Health Law,” PAP said, referring to the Philippine Mental Health Law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2018.
The government, meanwhile, did little to clean up its rhetoric.“We often see the police or even our legislators say that the menace of society is drugs and if we solve drugs then we solve everything,” says Lee Yarcia, a researcher at No Box Transitions.
“People like to subscribe to this narrative because it’s an easier solution, but it’s not evidence-based.”No Box is a rehab center that advocates harm reduction, a more therapeutic approach to addiction treatment.
One of those patients is Ramon, 43, whose name has been changed to protect his identity.
Ramon surrendered to the police in November after motorcycle-riding men killed one of his friends.
But even if my name is cleared, I’m still not sure of my safety as long as Duterte is president,” says Ramon.
In 2002, the Philippine Congress overhauled the pre-existing drug treatment policy, taking a more clinical approach to addiction.